The time has come the walrus said to speak of many things
To say that I was not happy when I was told that I needed a D&C, would be an understatement. It meant hospitalization for the day, general anesthesia, a procedure followed by a biopsy. But there was no choice so I got it done. Everyone assured me that I was worrying about nothing and the tissue would be benign. I wanted so much to believe that and convinced myself that it would indeed not be malignant. I discharged myself from hospital at 2 a.m. and went home rather than spend the night much to the chagrin of Afia Salam who was staying with me. Like most normal people, I don’t like hospitals and wanted to be out as soon as possible.
A week or so passed following the D&C and it was after attending an event in Karachi, that I went to collect my biopsy report from the AKU collection center at Teen Talwar in Clifton to find out what the verdict was. As happens with most medical reports, this report, with all its medical jargon, meant very little to me. However, the words Endometriod Adenocarcinoma raised a red flag in my brain – didn’t ‘carcinoma’ have some connection with cancer? I tried not to think about it as I drove home. As soon as I got there, I typed Endometriod Adenocarcinoma in Google Search – and the words cancer were the first words that popped up. As the realization engulfed me, the tears started to flow down my cheeks. I let it all out and then the brain started to function. I needed to find out how serious it was, had to fight it, had to deal with it – not so much for my own sake as much as Abbaji’s. Who would take care of him if I wasn’t around? He needed me. For his sake I had to get well, I kept telling myself.
Anyway, I had to push everything out of my head for a few days because the next morning I was leaving for Istanbul to attend the Turkish ICT Summit. I had committed to going there on behalf of P@SHA and so off I went. Tried to keep thoughts of the diagnosis at the back of my mind and to concentrate on the networking and on the conference proceedings and on seeing Istanbul for the first time. But that story is for another time.
Back in Karachi four days later, I called the oncologist. She checked out the report I sent by email, told me it was indeed cancer but that it appeared to be stage 1. She asked me to immediately get a CT Scan and MRI done so she could assess the extent to which the cancer had spread if it had.
Even though several of my dear friends have struggled with this disease – some have conquered it while others haven’t, I was not ready to be told that I was suffering from cancer. Like most people, I had lived under the illusion that this type of thing only happened to other people – until one day it happened to me.
Anyway, I had to accept it and deal with it. So off I went for the CT Scan and the MRI. Thank God for dear friends who accompanied me for doctor’s visits, tests and follow ups. Some showed up with chocolate cake to cheer me up. Others showed up to crack a joke or two to distract me from the seriousness of this disease and what awaited me. Thank God also for my siblings & extended family and friends who offered their love, understanding and support and the P@SHA Chairman, Central Executive Committee and my team at the Secretariat all of whom told me to focus on getting well while they would take care of P@SHA and its activities.
The CT Scan and MRI indicated that the cancer hadn’t spread. The oncologist looked at all the reports and said that I would need surgery – a complete hysterectomy – which would possibly have to be followed by several cycles of radiation but she said the prognosis was good. It appeared that we had caught it early and although the surgery and follow up treatment would be rough as would the recuperation, I should come through it okay. Of course she would only be really sure of the extent of it once she operated.
The surgery could have been done right away but my haemoglobin count was low so the doctor said that I should bump that up with iron, folic acid and a better diet and scheduled surgery for October 15. This suited me since the P@SHA Annual ICT Awards and Conference were scheduled for October 10 – yes I was worried about that! I focused on preparations for the events and tried to keep my mind off the cancer but at the same time I worked on increasing my iron intake.
I kept my spirits high and, other than a close inner circle, no-one knew what I was going through.
The surgery was further delayed by another week due to an infection which had to be treated with strong antibiotics but finally today I was admitted to Aga Khan Hospital (AKU). The surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning. I will be in hospital for at least 6 days and will probably need a few weeks of recuperation time after that – before the radiation cycles are started.
To all those who have been calling and emailing and wondering why I won’t schedule anything for the next few weeks, you now have your answer. I hope you understand and will give me the space and time that I need to fight this.
My doctor says I can be on my iPad 24 hours after the surgery if I am up to it so you may start seeing updates very soon after I have been cut up and released from the Special Care Unit.
To all those who have been around the past few weeks seeing me through this tough period providing love and support, accompanying me for doctors’ visits and a plethora of tests, bringing me cakes, taking me for nice lunches, making sure I continued to smile and stayed positive and, most important of all, praying for my health and my quick and complete recovery – all I can say is thank you. It is great to have so many people in your life who care so much. That is what gives me strength and enables me to continue smiling and laughing.
To Sultan Hamdani and Atif Mumtaz, thank you for your prayers at Mecca during the Hajj. To Norbert Almeida and Raza – thanks for bleeding for me (donating blood) at such short notice. We’ll all party once this is all over! . For now please say a little prayer that all goes well tomorrow and in the days that follow.